Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Barclays Traders Don’t Have Special Honesty Code, SFO Says

  • Bankers have same standards for truth as public, Hines says
  • Prosecutor says Johnson plea is clear evidence of conspiracy

A London prosecutor urged jurors to hold five former Barclays Plc traders on trial for manipulating Libor to the same standards of honesty as the general public, and not a separate code assigned to the banking industry.

"It is no answer to the question to say this was regarded as honest by other bankers," James Hines, a prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office said in his closing argument Tuesday. "That’s simply not the test."

Alex Pabon, Stylianos Contogoulas, Jay Merchant, Jonathan Mathew and Ryan Reich are on trial for conspiring to fix the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark tied to trillions of dollars in securities and loans, between 2005 and 2007. Another former trader, Peter Johnson, has pleaded guilty to the charge.

Hines said that Johnson’s guilty plea was "the clearest possible evidence” that there was an agreement between the men to manipulate the benchmark rate.

The prosecutor also told the jury not to be swayed by how young a number of the defendants were when they were allegedly rigging Libor. Reich, Pabon and Mathew were all in their 20s.

"These guys are in an extremely different league. None of these men were out of their depth," said Hines. "This type of banking is a young person’s game."

Hines’ closing speech comes at the end of a nine-week trial, which has seen a number of senior Barclays executives testify, including Harry Harrison, the British bank’s head of non-core assets.

The defendants face as much as 10 years in prison if they are convicted of the charge of conspiracy to defraud.

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